“You Are [NOT] a Winner” Consent Order Entered Against Printer/Mailer of Deceptive Prize Notifications
On February 9, 2017, a consent order was entered in favor of the FTC against the general manager of a company engaged to procure printing and mailing of deceptive prize notifications. The individual got laminated for $800,000 (subject to reduction).
The lesson: anyone involved with deceptive prize/sweepstakes/contests mailings could get in serious trouble.
According to the Complaint, the sponsor, using the aforementioned company, mailed hundreds of thousands of personalized cash prize notifications announcing that the recipients had won a cash prize of $943,543.54. (NB: maybe a million dollars outright seemed too suspicious?)
Of course, the offer was made to sound juicy: “YOU HAVE WON A CASH PRIZE! … Your name was identified among a tiny percentage of ALL eligible individuals. The fact that you have won a cash prize must be thrilling and somewhat overwhelming.”
Of course, they targeted the elderly. Of course, they asked for a “fee” of $25 to collect the prize. Of course, people complied. And of course, they didn’t get the cash prize.
Why go after the printer/mailer? The sponsor gave him the electronic templates of the prize notifications, the outer envelopes and the return envelopes, and instructed him on the quantities to print, who to mail them too, and when to mail them. (He may have done some editing too.) He then arranged for the notices to be printed and mailed out. According to the FTC this was enough to be in on the scheme. (more…)